Peace prize win­ners de­mand re­lease of Chi­nese dis­si­dent

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

BEI­JING: Five No­bel Peace Prize win­ners have launched a cam­paign urg­ing the re­lease of jailed Chi­nese dis­si­dent Liu Xiaobo, a fel­low No­bel re­cip­i­ent, the group said yes­ter­day.

The plea comes a day be­fore the 2011 No­bel Peace Prize is to be pre­sented in Oslo, Nor­way, and a year af­ter Liu’s award cer­e­mony, which he was un­able to at­tend.

Liu’s empty chair at that cer­e­mony is still a sym­bol of Chi­nese govern­ment re­pres­sion, and Chi­nese search en­gines have blocked the phrase “empty chair” in a bid to shut down dis­cus­sion about his case.

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of Sup­port to Liu Xiaobo said Liu was the only No­bel lau­re­ate in prison, and ac­cused the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of for­get­ting his plight.

Liu co-au­thored a man­i­festo in 2008 call­ing for an end to sin­gle-party rule in China, and was de­tained later that year. His call for peace­ful po­lit­i­cal change re­sulted in an 11-year jail sen­tence on charges of “in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion of state power”.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the sen­tenc­ing to 11 years in prison seems to be for­got­ten out­side China,” said the group, which called for Liu’s “im­me­di­ate and un­con­di­tional re­lease”.

The an­nounce­ment of Liu’s No­bel Prize last year cheered China’s frac­tured, per­se­cuted dis­si­dent com­mu­nity and brought calls for his re­lease. It also in­fu­ri­ated the Chi­nese govern­ment and au­thor­i­ties ha­rassed and de­tained dozens of Liu’s sup­port­ers.

It re­sulted in harsh treat­ment of Liu’s wife. Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu is also in­volved in the cam­paign for Liu’s re­lease. – Sapa-ap

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